Alex Brown

I put a challenge out to "Mr. E-Paper" himself, Bob Sacks. Let me spill my drink on his e-book reader and then spill some more on the magazine he was carrying around. Which one would he replace faster?

Several months ago, the industry watched with great interest as Tina Brown—famed former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor—launched the online news site The Daily Beast. Brown’s move to the online publishing world shocked many, and some questioned her ability to head a Web site and effectively reach an online audience. But in an interview on The Daily Beast, the print diva seemed to dismiss the idea that her new medium would pose a challenge for her: “I’m not completely sure how a printing press works, but that never stopped me.”

When comparing printing bids, it’s not enough to find out which price is lowest. Because your specifications will vary from issue to issue and because the price of raw materials will rise or fall outside your printing contract, you need to know why one bid differs from another. Here are some calculations that will help you understand the pricing philosophy of a printer. Use them to launch your negotiation, so the printer’s prices can better fit your publication’s printing requirements.

You are not alone. Publishers are being buffeted by cost increases on all fronts, and while there are no magic wands to wave, we can gather round to share our sorrows and consider a few basic cost-control tactics. The latest blow is a 10-percent to 12-percent increase in ink prices announced by ink suppliers. Printers will differ in their implementation of this, but if yours is delivering bad news in the form of higher prices, you can accept it as a true reflection of the market. The costs of raw materials and freight have indeed affected the selling price of ink. Your printer

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